Category_Horror, Category_VHS -

The Sad Fate of the Films of Luciano Ercoli

My absolute favorite genre in the exploitation canon is the giallo. As other like-minded giallophiles out there will undoubtedly agree, one of the things that makes it sheer bliss to be a fan of the giallo is the outrageously expansive catalogue of films to choose from. One can indulge in the cinematic perfection of the Argento and Bava entries, the shameless sexploitation of films like Strip Nude for Your Killer or the Grand Guignol excess of a classic like Eyeball. I think it is safe to say, however, that everyone has their personal favorite that they claim as their own. For me, this is Luciano Ercoli’s Death Walks at Midnight. For my money, this movie has the best combination of my favorite giallo tropes: A brutally sadistic gloved killer (though they trade in black leather for spiked iron!), a trippy plotline involving drugs and psychedelic visions, pleasantly over the top characterizations, a badass female hero, and above all a fun and engaging mystery! So where is this film? Out of Print. And what about the rest of the Luciano Ercoli catalog? Well it’s mostly gone the same route. Forbidden Photos of a Lady above Suspicion is the only Ercoli film that is currently in print (its available of DVD from Blue Underground, highly recommended). There had been a nice set that featured Death Walks at Midnight and Death Walks on High Heels, but that too is gone and now goes for $60-$80 online!

I had been trying to write something on Ercoli for Lunchmeat for sometime, but being that the giallos had DVD releases I just was never able to make it work, so you can imagine my delight when I came across an Ercoli directed 70s cop flick on VHS called Killer Cop. Given my positive experience with Ercoli films, as well as with the gritty Italian cop exploitation of the era, I was thrilled to give it a spin. Conversely, you can imagine my utter disappointment when the tape broke down and de-spooled inside the VCR about 15 minutes into my first viewing. I have never been able to find the tape again. One more Ercoli film lost to the abyss, at least for now. Ercoli’s filmography isn’t massive, IMDB only has him down for 8 films and as far as I can tell, none of the four I haven’t mentioned have any kind of English Language release. It is sometimes mind boggling that with the slew of foreign exploitation cranked out by DVD companies in recent years there are so many potential gems being overlooked. But I suppose this is how it goes and that’s why we all keep digging through those bargain bins. - Ted Gilbert (7.10.11)

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